18 May 2018
It’s well established that elite athletes have a longer life expectancy than the general public.
Now for the first time, a study published in PLOS One (shows that athletes of the mind – chess grandmasters – enjoy the same longevity advantage as athletes of the body.
An Tran-Duy at the University of Melbourne and his colleagues obtained data on over 1200 chess grandmasters, mostly men, from 28 countries in three world regions, including whether or not they survived each successive year after receiving their title, all the way up to the beginning of 2017.
From this, the researchers calculated the average yearly survival rates, adjusting for region, age and sex, which allowed them to come up with estimated life expectancies for grandmasters of different ages in different years.
They did the same with data for over 15,000 olympic medalists. There was no difference in the average life expectancy of the athletes and the chess grandmasters, but both groups showed a sizeable life expectancy advantage compared to the general population.